Novel coronavirus: Don’t let the fake stoke the fear

Emilyn Tan // February 10, 2020, 11:20 pm

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Shoppers emptying the supermarket shelves in panic buying. Photo by Edric Sng.

As much as there has been gripping news on 2019-nCoV developments – The Life Church and Missions Singapore being identified as a cluster and now Paya Lebar Methodist Church reporting a confirmed case (February 9) – there has been nonsense to match.

I’ve received screenshots of an anonymous text of untruths about Case 29, a nameless 41-year-old man who had been to a clinic in Seletar.

A forwarded text warned of scam calls from personal data miners purporting to be Ministry of Health (MOH) officials.

There also have been news photos of shoppers urgently stocking up on toilet paper and instant noodles after rumours that supermarkets’ stock might run out.

It’s become tiring to suss out the real from the fake, and does it matter anyway?

Fear shakes faith

It does, because fake stokes fear, and fear shakes faith.

To clean up one’s church premises religiously is absolutely prudent and necessary. To get swept up in the wave of panic is not.

Fake stokes fear, and fear shakes faith.

So let’s be careful to maintain good sense (2 Timothy 1:7) along with good hygiene and recognise that it is less the unknowns about the disease than the uncertainty of our earthly fate that is rattling us.

The real questions we’re asking are: What if I get infected? And if so, can I blame someone? Whose fault is it?

Well, no one’s. About the man born blind, Jesus said: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

It’s a living and active word (Hebrews 4:12) that applies in such a time as this. God has the Divine Perspective and is in absolute control (Jeremiah 23:23-24), for His sovereign purposes (Malachi 1:11).

It is less the unknowns about the disease than the uncertainty of our earthly fate that is rattling us.

So, let’s approach His throne of grace with reverent fear, not loose speculations about that which we do not know better (Job 38:2). He listens in on every conversation (Malachi 3:16), and also speaks:

  • Proverbs 23:18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
  • Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
  • Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hold fast without wavering

As a Church we can actively heed the call to pray (Philippians 4:6), knowing God will, in His time, show us great and unsearchable things we do not yet know (Jeremiah 33:3).

Whether or not the community spread reaches us or our loved ones is not the issue now; rather, “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-24).

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About the author

Emilyn Tan

After years of spending morning, noon and night in newsrooms, Emilyn gave it up to spend morning, noon and night at home, in the hope that someday she’d have an epiphany of God with His hands in the suds, washing the dishes too.